Bill Gates has poured millions of dollars into public education reform in the U.S., and some teachers aren’t too thrilled about that.

About 150 instructors from the Badass Teacher Association marched through downtown Seattle toward the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday evening to demonstrate their disdain for the Common Core standards that have been implemented in 45 states, thanks largely to support from the Gates Foundation.

IMG_8917The Foundation has not only put more than $200 million toward the initiative, but also helped organize the political push necessary to implement Common Core, which recommends skills students should learn in each grade but does not set a specific curriculum — that’s up to individual states.

But as detailed in this Washington Post article from earlier this month, there’s been more and more pushback recently from both teachers and politicians on the standards. Some accuse Gates for supporting Common Core not for the benefit of students, but rather for corporate interest and to help Microsoft’s bottom line because the standards support technology and data.

That sentiment was apparent on the streets of Seattle Thursday.

“We want to get corporations out of teaching,” said Tom O’Kelley, an English teacher at Tacoma’s Oakland High School. “They are trying to turn public schools into a corporate money maker and push out the voice of teachers like we have no idea what we’re doing in education. Bill Gates certainly doesn’t. He’s a college dropout. He’s a corporate money maker — that’s all he does.”

Bill and Melinda Gates at this year's Stanford Commencement.
Bill and Melinda Gates at this year’s Stanford Commencement.

Teachers also say that Common Core puts too much focus on standardized testing and restricts what students can learn.

“As teachers we’re supposed to be addressing individual needs to students, yet everything is being standardized. You can’t have it both ways,” said Tom Garrard, an elementary school librarian in the Edmonds School District. “To help kids realize their potential we have to dial back on the testing and focus on the kids.”

Garrard added that “not everybody’s going to be an engineer.”

“Kids now have less opportunities for other forms of expression and learning,” he said. “Why our country is so great has a lot to do with creativity and [Common Core] is just pushing us in the opposite direction of that.”

O’Kelley called the Common Core a “horrid, nasty thing,” that doesn’t meet the needs of students.

“It wasn’t made by teachers and child development experts,” he said. “It’s not appropriate.”

When asked by the Washington Post about the criticism of Common Core, Gates said most teachers support the standards and noted that the movement is not about politics.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think wanting education to be better is a right-wing or left-wing thing,” Gates told the Post. “We fund people to look into things. We don’t fund people to say, ‘Okay, we’ll pay you this if you say you like the Common Core.’ ”

We’ve reached out to the Gates Foundation for comment and we’ll update this story when we hear back.

Update, 2:40 PT: Here’s a statement from the Gates Foundation:

Teachers guide much of our education work at the foundation. We are engaged in a constant conversation with great teachers here in Washington State and all across the country about what they need to help all their students succeed and how we can best support them. While not all teachers agree on how best to make that happen, they are all dedicated and passionate about their students. We share that passion with the educators we work with every day.

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  • Guest

    If Washington’s teachers were effective at educating our students, we would consider these protests to have merit. As it is, most of these teachers serve little purpose and fall back on their union contracts. You can find more evidence in the acclaimed film “Waiting for ‘Superman.'”

    If these teachers keep walking off the job, we can simply walk around them. Intelligent techno-men have already destroyed the complacent taxi industry; teachers are next on the disruption block.

    • NotACCFan

      issues with teachers and teachers’ unions aside (and I agree wholeheartedly about the unions) – Common Core is pretty messed up. Since we’re suggesting documentaries, check out Building the Machine:

      • RichardReuther

        The only thing wrong with the teacher’s unions is that many of their leaders have aligned themselves with the “power” of those with money.Teachers, generally a “go along to get along” group of people, need to take their unions back.

    • Susan Sontaj

      ‘Waiting for Superman ‘was a farce. And it was largely
      funded by Gates himself. The movie was full of lies and misconceptions. The idea is to criticize public teachers and our public education system, so thatprivate investors can swoop in and “reform” education, in other
      words, make money off of converting public schools to privately run charter schools and online schools.

      Please educate yourself:

      • Guest

        Sounds good to me. I want my children to attend a school that hires effective teachers and that fires teachers who don’t do a good enough job. Public schools are specifically barred from doing so by their union contracts. Shut them down and use the money to fund properly-run schools that educate our children. The best part is that these private schools actually cost less to run than the public ones do, so I as a taxpayer will save money.

        • eelo

          That is not true. Nobody wants ineffective teachers gone more than other teachers do.

          It is in the nation’s best interests to educate ALL the children, not just those who can afford private schools.

          • Guest

            Ineffective teachers don’t want ineffective teachers gone. And presumably effective teachers don’t want to be perceived as ineffective teachers and be gone.

            Both of those add up to safeguards for continued ineffectiveness that are absent in more competitive areas of society

      • Susan A

        You should cite reputable web sites.

    • RichardReuther

      Actually, when the dictator takes over a country, they kill the lawyers and educators first. Look at Cambodia. Is that what you really want? To destroy the basis of your democracy? Equating the taxi industry with teachers is sloppy logic.

      • Guest

        I don’t want to kill teachers. I simply want to employ the most competent teachers at schools. The less competent teachers can find jobs elsewhere, where they won’t be allowed to touch my children.

        • RichardReuther

          You are making the assumption that a large number of teachers are incompetent. This is exactly what the “deformers” want you to think. They have spent years screaming that in the media. In the recent LA court case which ended teacher tenure, the “evidence” that 3% of teachers are incompetent was a number pulled from out of the hat by the “expert” witnesses own observations of school classrooms. My experience, having taught, is that that is a high number. Most teachers put their heart and soul into their job. They spend many out of building hours planning lessons and thinking about how to meet the needs of all of their students.Can we do better? Sure. But you have to stop threatening teachers because the “best and the brightest” that you want in the classroom are not going into education because, after all, who wants to be hounded and threatened by parents, administration, politicians, etc.? At any rate, one could easily project that 3% of police are incompetent, based on reports of domestic violence, unnecessary force, police shootings, etc. that one reads in the newspapers. We don’t hear cries of the need for reform or that “they won’t be allowed to touch my children.” We also hear the opinion that our politicians, the people who are passing laws that are destroying the education system, are also considered by a large portion of the population to be “incompetent.” Teachers, police, politicians. Whom do you trust?

          • Guest

            I don’t trust the emotions of constituencies. I think we can agree that a common set of quantifiable metrics can point to several core competences. Testing our teachers will inform our decisions about who to keep and who to fire.

          • RichardReuther

            And that’s exactly what is wrong about test scores driving teacher evaluations. There is SO MUCH MORE to teaching than test scores. How do you handle the Asperberger’s kid who wants to tell you about the new movie he saw over the weekend (which diverts teaching time from the rest of the class)? Every Monday. What do you do when a student comes into your class crying? At what point do you send a disruptive student to the office rather than deal with it :in-house”? There is a Twitter hashtag (#evaluatethat) where teachers describe the thousands of things they do everyday “above and beyond,” the results of which do not show up on the test. Quantifiable metrics are only a small part of what goes on in the schoolhouse. And I haven’t even mentioned the adult bullying that principals direct at the teaching staff. How do you suppose a teacher’s effectiveness with students is affected by the constant barrage of paperwork (essentially telling you to “show your work”) directed at a targeted teacher for the purpose of making life miserable enough for them to leave because the principal cannot or will not collect actual evidence of poor teaching performance? Or because you are the union rep in the building? Quantify that.

          • Guest

            Dealing with non-educational issues is an important part of any educator’s job. We consider all aspects of a teacher’s performance.

            By the way: Asperger’s. Stop #whining on Twitter. Paragraphs.

          • RichardReuther

            No, “non-educational issues” are not properly addressed with an algorithm that just factors test scores. How do you assess the trust that is needed in the classroom? How can we create a “safe” learning atmosphere when we are being bullied by the principal because he doesn’t want to you in his building because you, in your role as building union rep, have opposed his policies? What number do you put in? Where in a teacher’s evaluation do you consider the trust factor with students?
            Thank you for the editing; my editor has gone to bed.

          • Guest

            The very notion of “union rep” is an anachronism. (Your editor will define that for you.)

            I’m sorry that you had such a terrible time teaching, but please understand that my children’s education is more important than your security and comfort are.

          • RichardReuther

            You do not grasp the depth of the problem of adult bullying in the schoolhouse. I had students come to me and ask “Is Mr. H bullying you,too?” They see this behavior and they have trouble processing its place in society. While we (all staff over the age of 50) were being bullied, we also had an increase in student on student bullying. Our state law at the time urged adults in the schoolhouse to “exhibit appropriate behaviors”: there were, however, no sanctions for doing otherwise. Your student’s education is directly tied to the security (mental, not professional) of the teaching staff. Whether it is a student or a teacher being bullied, the educational opportunities are diminished by the current atmosphere that “teachers are the problem” that is espoused by political leaders and “reformers.” When a bully is loose in the schoolhouse, teaching and learning suffer. If you really sorry about how we were treated, you need to figure out what the atmosphere/culture of the school is. There are dozens of examples of quality schools destroyed in one or two years by an administration that screws their teaching staff. And Common Core screws teachers; it takes away the ability of the classroom teacher to determine curriculum and, in some states, cuts 10-12% off available instruction time due to standardized testing. I’m sure that your concern for your child’s education would tell you that eliminating 10% of instruction time to add high stakes/high stress tests is not a good exchange.

          • Guest

            Teachers having to build trust with students is the same as a manager having to build trust with the people they manage in order to get the job done. The manager is not rewarded by the CEO for being nice. The manager is rewarded when he delivers results. Being nice and building trust and everything else will help get the job done more effectively, as well as having a happy and productive team. Teachers are not the only ones having to do these “extra” things at work. They are just the only ones complaining about not being appreciated for it by the superintendent/media/whoever. Your students appreciate you for it! Isn’t that why you love teaching in the first place? Get the results to keep your job, but doing all the “extras” will make your students love you. That is your relationship between you and the students, not between you and the people who pay you.

          • RichardReuther

            I do not know your work experience, but I have been both teacher and manager. They require separate skill sets. You are accepting the false equivalence of school as a business. The teacher is establishing the skills that the student will need when they go into the workforce. The manager is putting those skills to use in a work setting. The problem that teachers are facing is that too many students are coming to school ill prepared. There are many social and economic factors that are getting in the way of children having “normal” experiences before entering school. This explains the current emphasis on early childhood education as a means of leveling that “playing field” for those children who need it. Dismiss the social/economic factors at your own risk, but children living in “unsafe” conditions cannot learn in the same way as others. The same is true for teachers who are constantly under attack from politicians, administrators and “reformers,” who, by the way, have never spend a day in the classroom. Would you let the plumber tell the surgeon how to do their job? That’s what is happening in education; non-experts are gaining control over what happens in the classroom to the detriment of the students. “Doing what’s best for kids” is a disingenuous when you are making kids feel bad about themselves. We have kindergarten students who are forming a poor self-image because they are failing tests because they don’t have the computer skills or the ability to concentrate for 15 minutes (how many kindergartners do you know who will sit still for 15 minutes?). You also have the problem as they did in New York that the “cut score” wasn’t set until after the tests were taken and scored; the “cut score” was then set high so that 60% of students would “fail”- a number in line with administration expectations. As a manager, do you set the goal at the beginning of the day or the end of it? Do you manipulate the goal so that workers fail even after putting out their best effort? There is so much dishonesty that has been bred under the banner of “reform.” Students who might not score well on the tests are barred from the test because they aren’t “really” sophomores because they failed a class as freshmen. Cheating scandals have popped up in Texas, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, to name a few. Why? so that the score can be manipulated to “look good.” Is this what we want to teach our kids- that cheating is OK?

          • guest

            A manager doesn’t have a worker’s parents come down and complain to the CEO and board that the worker (their kid) is being treated with bias and badly when the manager (the teacher) actually fails him because he could not rise to the demands. A manager can hire and fire, not have to deal with anyone who walks in at anytime to be a student with any background or disability. Also a CEO doesn’t work with a publically elected board that changes every year and also, a CEO doesn’t have to deal with the weirdness of tax funded schools whose budget is out of his hands with no way to create revenue himself.

          • karen hanzel

            This guest is delusional.

    • sincere

      Yeah, well, all of the rich people send their kids where class size is small and common core testing is NOT done. Which is exactly what these unionized teachers are fighting for: smaller class size and not a robotic, rote test focused classroom, but one like the ones Bezo’s and Gate’s kids get to enjoy.

    • Maria Glass

      Waiting For Superman is a great piece of propaganda to pave the way for school privatization. Like Ruppert Murdoch said, a 500M dollars “industry” all courtesy of our tax $$$. Stop believing the lies. Our children are not a product. Teachers know that, hence their vilification.

  • Educated citizen

    Common Core is not the only issue. Gates Foundation also a big supporter of school privatization, commercialization of student data, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

    • Harry Seaward

      how exactly are they supporting a school-to-prison pipeline?

      • DeeDee DaGumby

        “One agency asks: “Are you experiencing high employee turnover?
        Worried about the costs of employee benefits? Unhappy with out-of-state
        or offshore suppliers? Getting hit by overseas competition? Having
        trouble motivating your workforce? Thinking about expansion space? Then
        Washington State Department of Corrections Private Sector Partnerships
        is for you.” (, July 25, 2005)

        Major corporations profiting from the slave labor of prisoners
        include Motorola, Compaq, Honeywell, Microsoft, Boeing, Revlon, Chevron,
        TWA, Victoria’s Secret and Eddie Bauer.”
        From a site called Global Research.

        • Guest

          Wow. That report is both real and current. As a result I am officially boycotting TWA.

          Do you hear me, TWA!? I am boycotting you!

        • Harry Seaward

          Maybe you’re confused. I asked how exactly are they supporting a school-to-prison pipeline?

      • educated citizen

        As described recently in local and national press, the Gates Foundation invests directly in the GEO Corp (formerly Wackenhut), the 2nd largest private prison co in the US.

        GEO Corp operates juvenile detention facilities nationwide with DOJ criticism of their operations – provides more background on the school-to-prison dynamic, including the contribution of high-stakes testing and criminalization of student behavior in privatized (aka charter) schools.

  • gotcha123

    We simply need to get the Unions out of our government, they do not belong there. Why should anyone be forced to pay dues to a private entity in order to work for their own government.

    • Guest

      Yeah…see….schools are not government. Where did you go to school? ARE YOU A VICTIM TOO OF POOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS? Damn….

      Also, you do not have to join a union to be employed by school districts.


      • gotcha123

        If you are living on the tax payers dollar, YOU Are Government. Sure, don’t join the teachers Union, and they will make life miserable for you.

        • eelo

          Well…. I live and teach in a RTW state. My paycheck is from taxes but there is no Union for me to join, unfortunately. I wish there was.

        • gotcha123isatwat

          I guess all the folks on Social Security are the gov-mint.

          And no, if you don’t join teacher’s union, you don’t have a miserable life. you just work.

          • gotcha123

            Believe it or not the government sucked those funds from all the tax payers with a breast pump and is redistributing it with an eye dropper, and I call BS on the Union.

        • ZeeQue

          I guess all people employed by government contractors are government.

  • Guestie

    The truth is that Bill Gates sent his kids to schools that did not require the systematic state testing and did not have teacher requirements put on them as do the public schools.

    Rich people send their kids to private schools that do not do the state testing. Their kids get to focus on creative subjects and thinking subjects that are not the rote memorization of these public school tests. They are also not herded into large class sizes. You know, what you call quality education. Meanwhile the profiteers of test and measurement technology that want to mine your kids for all sorts of data and wants to undermine teacher unions and “drive down costs” by increasing class size per teacher don’t send their kids to schools that follow the prescriptions they give for everyone else’s low class kid.

    • clue

      Bill and Melinda Gates do not have children

      • guestie

        Yes, they do. Idiot. Geeze, can’t you even use the Google?

        • RichardReuther

          My great-niece goes to school with them. She is there “on scholarship” not because her parents could afford it. In fact, “on scholarship” families are “urged” to do volunteer work at the school. Bill and Melinda certainly don’t.

  • TimothyG

    *Fewer* opportunities, Mr. Garrard. But hey, wouldn’t want to squelch your creativity or anything

  • sonyawiley

    Hey big bro & Melinda,
    Nice geek glasses, you look stylishly geeky, nice!
    Bill: great job in the back with Peter, thanks for catching up with Warren & I with him.
    Much love,

  • Terry Drayton

    Let’s just do a big reality check on this: Bill and Melinda Gates have donated most of their billions to a foundation that is trying to improve education (and healthcare) around the world. They don’t want to simply talk about it but actually do it. They aren’t looking for credit, running for office, courting donations or have any other agenda that would make them beholden to any group. That cannot be said of those marching in the street to protect their own self-interest.

    To improve something requires trying new ideas and measuring to see if that made it better. The incumbents dismissing the Gates, Bloomberg and others who have the temerity to challenge the status quo is what should be protested.

    • boop

      The Gates Foundation has how many billions of dollars to give away now? I don’t recall but it must be insanely difficult to do what they’re trying to do: Use the money in the best possible way to make a real difference in how “the world” turn outs. While I don’t doubt the people running the foundation are a lot smarter than I am, I do wonder if what they’re trying to do is even possible.

    • contrarian35

      The problem being that ALL OF THIS is tied to the Chamber of Commerce and Bill and Melinda Gates are earning MORE money because they own the copyrights on the mandatory textbooks for the Core. There is nothing altruistic about that. Especially when you throw in the allowance of only a one sided message. Teachers were not consulted when this program was written, It was churned out by bureaucracy and it is NOT a good curriculum. Please do your research. You clearly know nothing about this issue other that what you have been told by liberal media.

      • Teacher3rd

        I have discovered that most people who oppose the standards have never actually read them. In order to hold an accurate informed opinion, please take the time to read the Common Core

        Obviously, you did not do your research. The Common Core is NOT a curriculum, they are a set of standards. There are no mandatory textbooks for the Common Core. The Common Core does not dictate curriculum; each school district decides what curriculum they use. Many teachers, as well as experts in the fields of English and Mathematics, were consulted consulted throughout the lengthy process of creating the Common Core standards.

        The standards are supported by the most recognized mathematic organizations in America. See the support statement below from the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences:
        “If properly implemented, these rigorous new standards hold the promise of elevating the mathematical knowledge and skill of every young American to levels competitive with the best in the world, of preparing our college entrants to undertake advanced work in the mathematical sciences, and of readying the next generation for the jobs their world will demand. Much remains to be done to implement the standards, in curriculum, assessment, and teacher education. But we now have, for the first time in our history, a common blueprint for this work across state lines. This is not the time to turn away from our good fortune. We, the undersigned presidents of the following member societies of CBMS, hereby express our strong support for the Common Core
        State Standards for Mathematics.”

        James Roznowski
        American Mathematical Association
        of Two Year Colleges

        David Vogan
        American Mathematical Society

        Marie Davidian
        American Statistical Association

        Alasdair Urquhart
        Association for Symbolic Logic

        Ruth Charney
        Association for Women in Mathematics

        Fran Arbaugh
        Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators

        Diana Kasbaum
        Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics

        Vanessa Cleaver
        Benjamin Banneker Association

        Hans Kuensch
        Institute of Mathematical Statistics

        Robert Devaney
        Mathematical Association of America

        Nathaniel Dean
        National Association of Mathematicians

        Valerie Mills
        National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics

        Linda Gojak
        National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

        Irene Fonseca
        Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

        Don Balka
        TODOS: Mathematics for ALL

        • contrarian35

          You know, I am not even going to get into it – You are clearly buying this administration hook, line and sinker, Yes, you are correct in that there is no ONE set series of books that MUST be used. But there are a finite number that have been approved to “meet the standards” and all of them are inadequate. And, while I see your list of people above, they are not teachers of elementary and high school math. And as such, should not be singularly writing these standards. Contribute? Sure, Absolutely. But they clearly have a stunning lack of awareness for what is developmentally appropriate. And further, there is a HUGE money trail back to Gates on this. So basically, condescend to me all you want. I am in this every single day. It is my job. I know what kind of a golden funding carrot is being dangled and quickly it has been yanked for people who are seeing the problems with this and discontinue its use. This administration and EVERYTHING tied to it – including Bill Gates – are toxic. And they are ruining our country,

    • Teacher3rd

      Well said!

  • Jason Rogers

    This is a group of lazy HIPSTER teacher wannbees. Who are angry for having the rug pulled out from under them. Kid’s have their parents to teach them the fun stuff, art, music, how to cook or build a bookshelf. Now that a higher standard is coming, one which is desperately needed. These measly 150 should run off and join the circus. While the apt continue to pass on said aptitude.Go wax your mustache you bearded hipster lazy sorry excuse for a teacher.

    • Jeremy J Whaley

      Most parents don’t teach their children much anymore or even pay attention to what is being done within the schools. It is sad but true.
      We need to start looking to Europe to see what they are doing with their schools. Sweden, Norway and the like are kicking our butts at educating their citizens and have for quite a while.

      • boop

        I agree “most parents don’t teach their children much anymore.” Why is this though? Are they too stressed out from their jobs to have any energy left over to do these things? Do they not know how to do these things themselves? Do they simply think it’s the job of the school system so why bother?
        I’m not at all an advocate of all the testing that goes on in schools these days BUT I am in favor of a return to more traditional academics. How can public-school teachers teach kids to garden or make biscuits when they don’t even know their multiplication tables? Priorities, folks, priorities!

        • NCteacher78

          Or if you teach in an area where I do and many of the parents are involved in domestic violence, incest, drug use, and lack of funds for school supplies, after school activities, and public safety and welfare. When I administered this year’s final exams, half the middle school kids began the test with their head down sleeping. As teachers, many of us teach our butts off, and even then there is only so much we can do.

      • NCteacher78

        Careful what you wish for. In Norway they pay their teachers as much as doctors and consider them an esteemed part of society for their role in advancing it. A concept that would frighten most Americans. Also in places like Norway and Sweden, they are responsible for teaching Norwegians and Swedes. In America we any given classroom is made up of all parts of life that walk our planet, many of which don’t share in the same concept of value for education, yet we are all expected to get them all to learn the same thing at the same rate. There have been how many hundreds of thousands of children entering our southern border illegally? But I guess those teachers who work with those children are deemed ineffective due to their test scores. What makes our nation great, that it is a hodge-podge of people makes it extremely difficult to have a national norm with high stakes funding attached to them.

    • boop

      Yes. Apparently they no longer teach anyone how to punctuate a sentence or form a plural in school any longer. It makes me ill.

  • Skool

    When you see termination rates of 3/110000 like NYC had one year and hear and read all sorts of similar stories in other parts of the country, it is very safe to say that the teachers union, of which the head of it in Seattle makes over $300,000 per year, is a HUGE part of the problem.

    Why is there even a union anyway? They are negotiating with the very people they elect? It is ludicrous.

    Then there’s the problem if “mainstreaming” where they’ve taken kids that used to be in Special Ed and inserted them into regular classrooms. This has caused teachers to frequently divert the majority of their attention to a few students. Then there’s the lack of discipline. I could go on and on.

    • Tracy Yarbrough

      Mainstreaming is the law. You do know that?

  • Jim Jackson

    You morons! you are afraid that the kids will actually become intelligent? Or do you need a training on the common core first so that you can impart it the ths kids?

    • MathGeek

      I’ve been through several. It took two days to learn the jargon, especially since the focus is on the test. We spent a lot of time analyzing items and specs for the Smarter Balanced test (you can take a sample test online and see if you think it is what all students need to know to be successful in life).

      Things that kids struggle with as freshmen or sophomores (i.e. surface area or systems of equations) are pushed down to 7th or 8th grade. They are not revisited (no spiraling, since we want to cram in as many concepts as possible), but can appear on the 11th grade test. How do I help them review? How many weeks will that take out of an already packed year?

      Some kids will be successful–and those will be the ones already accelerated. Any that struggle in math, with the pace we’ll have to keep, will just be Left Behind.

      • disqus_0DKvHNMMZR

        There’s nothing in the Common Core stopping you from spiraling.

        • MathGeek

          With what time? I’m already hard-pressed to fit in all existing standards because there must be enough time for students to master concepts before moving on.

  • madgrandma

    Thank you Teachers! Standing with Parents and KIDS!
    Coloradoans Against Common Core

  • Name

    Two things:
    1- complaining about teachers is like complaining about bank tellers when the banks blew up – who holds the power? certainly not teachers. it’s the admins and the school boards and the money people. teachers are simply the visible face of the problem and an easy target. and, probably some leftover 3rd grade anger when someone gave you a ‘C’.

    2 – re Gates school to prison pipeline – research Gates investments in private prisons

  • David Blomstrom

    I discovered the truth about Bill Gates’ education campaign in the 1990s, when I taught in Seattle while transforming into a political activist. In fact, the Seattle School District was riddled with corruption as far back as 1970, and it was effectively privatized about 1995, when the Seattle Chamber of Commerce recruited a derelict retired general named John Stanford to serve as the district’s superintendent.

    Bill Gates merely joined the feeding frenzy, annexing public education to his business empire.

    The teachers unions are absolutely corrupt; I really see no difference between the National/Washington/Seattle Education Association and the Reamsters…er, Teamsters.

    Teachers are a mixed bag. On the one hand, I long ago grew tired of being blamed for everything that’s wrong in education by corrupt politicians and the corporate media. On the other hand, when I became a whistle-blower and candidate for public office, I quickly learned that teachers are just like other Americans – paralyzed by apathy, stupidity and spinelessness.

    I will never stop supporting the children, but, between corporate warlords and brain-dead teachers (and parents), it’s hard to see any hope.

  • David Blomstrom

    P.S. I should also comment that I couldn’t imagine Seattle teachers protesting Bill Gates – they never have and they never will. Nor is it easy to understand why the right-wing Seattle Times would cover such a protest. However, the second paragraph makes it clear that these protesters aren’t from Seattle. It reminds me of the WTO protest, when real activists from across the country converged on Seattle to make a statement, only to have that statement diluted by the almost unbelievable apathy and stupidity of Seattleites.

  • pinpricksociety

    There are many good arguments in this comments section. However, it seems that most people ignore the valid evidence of what is harmful and helpful in the education system. This is not just a result of people’s tendency to politicize their beliefs and think in black-and-white terms. It’s a symptom that society itself is not sufficiently educated to think.
    How can we determine the results of policies and methods when we are focused on anecdotes, he-said-she-said evidence, and statistics that don’t definitively indicate causes or solutions? How can we expect to educate children when teachers themselves cannot accurately evaluate the school system and its methods in regard to what comprises effective teaching?
    It is not enough to hold on to an argument because it is familiar and popular. If teachers value education, then why do so many teachers deny that getting a master’s degree will improve their teaching? If you go through graduate school without improving your own abilities to learn and teach, then the problem is not just the education system, but rather how people value and regard education. It is more than getting answers right in order to get good grades.
    Standardized tests may have their place, but they should not be used in the way they are currently used. They should not be used to make high-stakes decisions. The wrong tests are used, and the education system’s philosophy of their use is ultimately nihilistic.
    Teach students to think, teach them how to evaluate information and how to reason with that information. Only when teachers correctly evaluate evidence will they help students to learn. Only when teachers recognize truly useful teaching methods, will they effectively protest against corporatist education. Only when they identify and present incontrovertible evidence for the various flaws in the system’s prescribed methods, evidence that can’t be refuted by mere opinions, will they be able to break free from the coercion of tainted union practices. Only when teachers break free from the delusion that “there’s nothing wrong with the way I teach, with the things I believe about teaching…I don’t need to learn more about how to learn and teach,” will they start to enable effective reforms in the education system. Learn how to learn, learn how to teach.
    If you believe that technology can’t substitute for a teacher, then prove it. Why can’t you prove it? We teach children that they live in a democracy where citizens determine change. Prove it. Democracy doesn’t survive without the sufficiently-educated demos.
    There are those among us who claim to be on our side, but who actually hurt our efforts by making irrational arguments.
    Mortimer Adler, in How to Read a Book, says that reading, writing, listening, and speaking should all be active forms of thinking. John Anderson, in Cognitive Psychology and its Implications, provides the core principles of language, problem-solving, reasoning, and memory, among other things. Michael Posner, in How to Educate the Human Brain, describes how learning and perception interact in various ways throughout the different stages of childhood.
    When you think you know everything, when you think you know enough, that’s when we are doomed.

  • Susan A

    “They are trying to turn public schools into a corporate money maker and
    push out the voice of teachers like we have no idea what we’re doing in
    education. Bill Gates certainly doesn’t. He’s a college dropout. He’s a
    corporate money maker — that’s all he does.”

    I don’t think drawing attention to your frequent irrelevancy is the direction you wanted to go with that sound-bite.

  • Saywhat

    Nonsense about standardization. It is good for the kids and good for measuring teachers performance. That is what the unions are upset about. The breaking-up of their cronyism that is destroying our schools and our children education.

    Bust the teachers union and get rid of tenure. Then will see a difference.
    Ex-Teacher speaking.

  • panacheart

    The comments I think are more interesting than the article. Honestly I don’t know enough about common core to say if it’s good or bad. But what I do know is that any interaction I’ve had with schools and administrations here have left me very very angry with our school system. We blame the teachers, but the administrators who make six figure incomes, many of them double dipping and being paid 6 figures after “retirement” are a big part of the problem. School administration needs to be overhauled.

    The teacher’s union is just a joke. What a bunch of whiny, greedy bullies that need to be thrown out. Alcatraz would be a good spot for them.

    Our schools need change – real change. I think one of the biggest things we can do is to let parents be involved and in the classroom volunteering. And don’t reply to this saying it’s easy to volunteer and there’s the PTSA etc. It’s nonsense. I’ve got two kids in Bellevue, one just graduated, and one is a junior. There’s a real wall between parents and the classroom. Tearing down that wall is the first step in any meaningful change in the classroom. But tearing down those that built that wall is a huge first step, and that is the administration and the teacher’s union.

  • Argento Pinciati

    Extracted from a worldwide study – “The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.”.
    And the teacher’s union thinks this is OK? Clearly, these teachers do not have students as their priority as they claim. They simply want to protect their inefficient teachers from getting paid less or losing their jobs. The union is worried about performance measures based on how well they teach – face it folks – this is how the rest of the world works. Get measured, get better, or get out!

    • Roswalien

      “When scores are aggregated to reflect poverty, American students in schools where less than 10% of the population is on free lunch are first in the world in reading and science, and fifth in the world in math, indicating that the strongest implications of PISA data are not about American achievement as a whole, but about the adverse effects of poverty on student achievement” from

      You should do some research before you say something like that. I teach at a school where most of my students (over 75%) get a free or reduced lunch. In fact, the number of needy students is so high the entire school gets a free breakfast. Sadly, the only food some of my students get is at school. Have you ever forgotten to eat breakfast? Was it distracting to your workday?

      Imagine not eating dinner because there is no food in the house, and not getting to school in time to eat breakfast, because your parents dropped you off late. Now you’ve gone a full 18 hours without eating. Now it’s time for me to teach you math. Are you going to be able to concentrate on my lesson? My job next year depends on you learning this. No, you will be thinking of lunch being 3-5 hours away or how to find a snack somewhere after this class. Yet I am expected to get these students to the same level as kids in a middle-class suburb on the test.

      This is not the only issue. I have students who babysit younger siblings instead of doing their homework (often helping with their brother’s homework instead of doing their own). I have students whose families are pimping them out or raping them (whether you believe it or not) and despite the school reporting the issue, repeatedly, nothing has been done. 1.6 million children are homeless. 16 million children are living in poverty. In my state, 29% of our students are living in poverty.

      That means out of my classroom of 36 approximately 9 will be utterly unteachable because they are a) sleeping, b) starving, c) traumatized/abused, and/or d) homeless and more worried about where they will sleep tonight.

      And it is my fault when, as their math teacher, can’t make all of them productive math students. In my state, students are looking forward to being on welfare and see school as a waste of time (so do their parents).

      I have only been teaching 3 years and was considered ineffective despite great principal reviews because of my student’s test scores on a test that does not impact the students themselves in any way. Students know they can fail and nothing will happen. The only test that matters to students is the 11th grade test, so they don’t care if they fail any other test.They also know if they get a bad score, their teacher might get fired. They have an incentive to do badly!

      How about evaluating me on things I have control over? You don’t fire a carpenter who was given rotten wood, why fire a teacher who has unmotivated students?


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  • Karen

    I don’t think teachers have been the problem. The problem is a rejection of the fact that there is a range of ability amongst students. The “social equity” and PC people want to replace that fact with the fallacy that intelligence or ability to learn is the same in all people. They are distorting and destroying the learning process with common core. Teachers are being criticized for what should be a natural conclusion: some children score higher than others on tests and learn and retain information more easily. Meanwhile, their buddies in the computer and publishing business are drooling over the prospect of making lots more money off of computers, software, curriculum, tests and data collection, just to start. Thereby increasing their influence even more. Rinse and repeat.

  • jamesdouglas

    i hope they know what they are doing, those gate keepers

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